The issue and question, by its very nature, is polarising and we are seeing these divisions play out in our families and communities.
As Australians prepare to vote on The Voice to Parliament later this year, Aaron Violi, MP for Casey wanted to understand his constituent’s views on this issue more deeply. He wanted to connect with a diversity of his electorate and hear the voices of people who don’t normally contact him. He also wanted to provide an opportunity for the people of Casey to learn more from the proponents on both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides, to hear each other’s reflections and consider the proposal together.
The People’s House – People Talk method brought together 60 people randomly selected and stratified, to ensure a group that was broadly representative of the Casey electorate. Through a carefully facilitated process, attendees heard from speakers on both sides of the debate; Aunty Jill Gallagher AO and Warren Mundine AO, before talking to each other about the issues through a carefully facilitated process. The attendees were polled at the beginning and the end of the event on their voting intent and why they held that view. After hearing the information, stories and having conversations with fellow citizens, the shift was significant.
When people arrived 33% indicated that they would vote “Yes” to the referendum question, 38% “No” and 29% were unsure. When they left, the group was evenly split, with 43% indicating that they would vote “Yes” and 43% “No”. Almost a quarter of attendees changed their position because of the discussion, leaving the vote tied and a vastly reduced number unsure.
While this process didn’t demonstrate a clear winner for or against The Voice – this wasn’t the point. The process helped:
“I thought today was great and I am really grateful for being given the opportunity to attend and hear the opinions from both sides. Thanks, Aaron, for organizing.”
“Thought the speakers were helpful and appreciate Aaron asking for constituents to express their views.”
“I appreciated the opportunity to hear the various passionate viewpoints whether or not they were consistent with mine.”